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Outstanding Undergraduate makes an impact in small communities

College of Health Solutions graduate Katarina Adriano

Katarina Adriano is the College of Health Solutions Outstanding Undergraduate for the spring 2024 semester.

April 30, 2024

By Aidan Hansen

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2024 graduates.

ASU College of Health Solutions online student Katarina Adriano worked to aid small communities through her research while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in public health.

Since the beginning of this year, Adriano has helped the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Parker, Arizona, by researching how the community is struggling and what are the biggest needs that need to be filled.

The church is a staple in Parker and helps those in the community with food insecurities, financial struggles and clothing donations, all through volunteers.

“St. Vincent de Paul does a lot, Adriano said. “So the retention and promotion to get more volunteers is really important.”

Adriano is currently researching an orientation program for the church that would save them money, resources, and time and would allow the church to use more of its finances to help the communities they serve.  

“It will save them time and money when it comes to actually giving an orientation. I'm making flyers for them and finding free resources for them to use if they need to print them, then it's not going to be so costly,” Adriano said.

She has been chosen as the College of Health Solutions' Outstanding Undergraduate for the spring 2024 semester.

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I was volunteering in a women’s shelter and found that I wanted to do more for them, and help out people who are in impoverished or poverty-stricken communities, people who are low-income, Indigenous communities and veterans.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I worked for LabCorp at the time, and they offered a program where they would pay for the tuition ... you would just need to follow the degrees that they had available, and they would pay for the whole thing. I went because my tuition was paid, and I wanted a second degree.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: College is what changed my point of view a lot. I feel like I was pretty selfish as a teen and as a kid. I liked helping people; I liked improving people's moods; and I volunteered and stuff. It wasn't until college that I was like, “Oh! You can do astronomically more!” You can really do leaps and bounds for people.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Dr. Lauren Savaglio has taught me a lot about what I am here for, for the future, for project writing, and for mentally preparing myself and the requirements. I feel like she's given me the most and the best work experience within college. It makes me feel a lot more mentally prepared for what I will need to do in the future.

Q: Was there a favorite place where you would either study, hang out, or get research done? 

A: The Lake Havasu Mohave County Public Library. It's a really nice library; it’s cold in there too. They have enough space to write down things and read or have multiple books open, and they're a library so they have resources and they're willing to order books for you too. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: You're the one who gets yourself out of bed every day. You should be really proud of that.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan on getting a medical lab scientist degree certification. I'm going to get my prerequisites for that and I want to use what I learned in the laboratory to better understand the in-depth health aspects — then I want to go for my master's. The end goal is to become a medical examiner.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A:  Probably restructure and fix veteran affairs; find veterans who are homeless and struggling. Finding those who are on the verge of suicide and putting money into veteran affairs to improve it so that people can get the help that they need.

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